In this blog I am going to show you how to weave this beautiful scarf using just one ball of £3.99 yarn and no pattern... PURE MAGIC!
A great way for beginners to achieve quick and impressive results without spending a fortune is to use a variegated yarn for both warp and weft. The effect you’ll get will depend on the length of the colour runs from a faux plaid to an ombre gradient. Despite what some people tell you, you can use acrylic knitting yarn on your rigid heddle loom – just make sure it is smooth (hairy yarns may abrade) and plied (a single may not be strong enough as a warp thread under tension). Double Knitting (DK or 8 ply) weight yarn is perfect in the 7.5dpi reed that comes with the Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms. The yardage on acrylic yarns is often greater than wool since it is often less dense and therefore it goes a little bit further.
I wove this scarf from just one 100g ball but if you want a wider or longer scarf, you may need to break into a second. Here’s how I did it using a sampleit loom with a 7.5dpi reed and just 1 ball of Acrylic DK yarn.
Warping the Loom
First, decide how long you want your finished scarf to be and then add another foot or so to take account of the bit of warp behind the reed that you don’t weave and the bit of warp at the very front of the loom that is tied on and used to spread all the ends. Set the warping peg this distance from the back of the loom. My warp length was 6ft/183cm and this gave me a finished scarf length, including fringe, of 66"/168cm. Provided you can steady the loom so that it doesn’t move during the warping process you don’t need to use a table to hold both the loom and the warping peg. I put the yarn in a basket on the floor underneath the back of the loom to stop it rolling all over the place (see picture). Tie the yarn on to the back stick.
Now you can wind the warp on to the back beam. An even tension is key here. Hold the warp with one hand and wind it onto the back beam with the other. I used cardboard sticks to separate each layer of warp. Stop when the end of your warp is about a foot in front of the reed.
At this stage there are two ends through every slot and now is the time to move one of those and thread it through the hole so that you end up with just one end in every hole and every slot. I tend to work from left to right, reaching over the reed to remove one end from the slot and re-threading it though the hole to the right. Carry on across the whole width. Check that you have one end in every hole and every slot before moving on.
Now you can tie the warp to the front rod. There are a few ways to do this. My favoured method is to tie in groups of about 1 inch, so in a 7.5dpi reed I tie in groups of 8 ends – 4 slots and 4 holes. I take all 8 ends over the stick, towards me and then back under, splitting 4 to the right and 4 to the left and make a knot (just one) over the 8 ends.
Do this all the way along the width. Then, starting at the middle and working outwards, I take hold of each side of the knot and cinch it upwards, tightening as I bring it back down and making a second knot to hold fast.
Starting to Weave
The first job is to spread the warp so that al the warp ends are sitting next to each other nice and straight. I use T shirt yarn but any thick yarn, or yarn doubled or trebled if necessary will do. I insert three picks (rows) – changing the shed each time by changing position of the reed but NOT beating between picks. Once all three picks have been inserted I use the reed to firmly but gently press these down upon each other. If there are still gaps between warp threads I repeat with another 3 picks but it isn’t usually necessary.
Usually when I am making a scarf I like to do a hem stitch to keep the first weft pick in place. Insert the shuttle for the first pick from the right and leave a length of about 3 times the width of the scarf and weave a few more picks. Using a darning needle and the extra length of yarn I encompass 2 warp threads and 2 weft picks as shown in the photographs below. The needle goes around 2 warp threads to the right and around 2 weft picks up and to the left. See also our hem stitching blog!
If you are using a variegated yarn with short colour changes, you will start to see the faux plaid effect as you continue to weave. To make the most of the colour changes check that you are not beating too hard and covering up the warp colours. You should be aiming for an “even weave” where the same number of warp threads and weft picks give the same measurement. Using a 7.5dpi reed where there are 7 and a half threads per inch, you should be weaving 7 or 8 picks per inch. My weaving shows approximately 9 weft picks per inch which is acceptable. There is also a little “square of air” where the warp and weft threads intersect – another way of checking that your beat is even.
Although this scarf uses less than 100g of yarn, I did have to re-load my shuttle a few times. Here’s how I deal with the ends - it’s so simple. I simply weave until I reach the end of the yarn on my shuttle. It doesn’t matter if it is in the middle of the scarf. I re-load my shuttle and place the start of the new yarn overlapping the old yarn by an inch or so and carry on. I leave the ends sticking out for now but I’ll trim them flush once the scarf is off the loom and has had it’s bath. I promise you, that little bit of doubled up weft will not be noticeable in the finished article.
Keep weaving until you cannot advance the warp any more. Actually, I probably could have woven a few more inches but since I wanted a decent amount of fringe on this scarf I stopped before this. Remember to repeat the hem stitching if you did it at the beginning before you cut the scarf from the loom.
It is said that the weaving is not finished until it’s finished. How you finish your cloth will depend on it’s purpose. Acrylic yarn will not bloom or full but that doesn’t mean it won’t benefit from a warm soak to allow the threads to settle. I also like to steam press my acrylic scarves as I find it improves their drape a little. Trim any ends and neaten the fringe and you’re done... well, until you decide to start another one in a different colourway!
Or, if scarves are not your thing you can use a few more balls to weave a wider cloth - for a blanket, throw or even a poncho or ruana, I weave long rectangles and sew them together. You can also weave a firmer fabric, for a bag perhaps, by using a smaller gauge reed (maybe try a 10dpi or a 12.5dpi) or by warping two ends through each slot and hole. Whatever you decide to do, have fun and share your projects with us!